…when things get rough, we sometimes convince ourselves that all we need is a fresh start in a new place, and we’ll be able to get our lives back under control.
I introduce the notion of addiction as a subject of philosophical inquiry here for a reason. I am a philosopher, yes, but I am also an alcoholic who has been sober for more than 24 years ― only the last four of them as part of a recovery program. I am often asked how I got and stayed sober for those first 19 years; it was because of philosophy, which engendered in me a commitment to living an examined life, and gave me the tools and concepts to do so. My training in moral philosophy made it natural for me to wrestle with issues of character, responsibility, freedom, care and compassion in both work and life. http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/01/08/out-of-the-cave-philosophy-and-addiction/
Here’s an excerpt and link to an article I just posted on another site. Perhaps someone will find it useful.
The comedian Dave Gardner used to remark, “Folks are always saying, ‘Let’s do this again!’ But friends, you can’t do anything again! You can do something similar!”
I think about Gardner’s bit of wisdom when I hear people in early recovery talking about returning to their families and friends and “making it up to them.” (This also brings to mind the idea of pushing toothpaste back into the tube.) We say these things with the idea that we will be able to return things to the way they were “before” — if there ever really was a before.
That’s a lovely idea, but it’s not the way reality works.
Read more at Sunrise Detox Blog
Glamorous tales abound of high-rollers losing millions in a night, but the sad truth is most gambling addicts go bankrupt one scratch card at a time.
If we believe in a loving god who cares what happens to us, looks after us, and answers prayers, the peace that our belief brings will unquestionably be a great support in recovery. On the other hand, if we believe that a god will take care of us simply because we ask, without our putting any effort into our recovery process, then it is quite possible that believing could hinder our recovery. Likewise, if we were raised to believe in a harsh, punishing god who will make us pay for our transgressions, we may find that we are emotionally unable to deal with the implications and may so totally reject the “God Thing” (as many of us call it) that we end up throwing our recovery out with our religious beliefs.
[Please read the rest of the article before commenting.]
Is addiction a fate worse than unremitting, agonizing pain? To many people, the answer is absolutely not—particularly if the sufferer is close to death. But that’s not how our policymakers—and even many people affected by addiction—seem to view the issue.
While use of prescription opioids for cancer and other end-of-life pain is increasingly accepted, if you are going to suffer in agony for years, rather than months, mercy is harder to find. Indeed, it seems a given by the media that because addicts sometimes fake pain to get drugs, doctors should treat all patients as likely liars—and if a physician is conned by an addict, the doctor has only herself to blame.
I came as close to using drugs last night as I have in over 20 years. My experience — totally unexpected — draws a line under the reasons that we have to keep our heads in the right place, have supports available, and the several other things involved in maintaining our sobriety.
Peg O’Connor at the NYT writes:
I introduce the notion of addiction as a subject of philosophical inquiry here for a reason. I am a philosopher, yes, but I am also an alcoholic who has been sober for more than 24 years ― only the last four of them as part of a recovery program. I am often asked how I got and stayed sober for those first 19 years; it was because of philosophy, which engendered in me a commitment to living an examined life, and gave me the tools and concepts to do so. My training in moral philosophy made it natural for me to wrestle with issues of character, responsibility, freedom, care and compassion in both work and life.
In our company, I’m the field supervisor. I’m the one who has to go deal with things when the site supervisors either can’t handle them or aren’t available. That happened to me this morning. A call at 8:00 AM changed my day, and practically all the chores (and fun) I had planned for the day are trashed: the price you pay for being a boss.
As I was rushing through the things I had to get done, I was thinking about how easy it was, compared to the way I would have dealt with the same sort of thing when I was active in my addictions.
Read more at the Sunrise Detox Blog, then subscribe to its feed.
I received an email from a hard-nosed recovering addict/alcoholic who stated, in essence, that inpatient detox isn’t necessary, that he did it on his own, and that all anyone needs is a (little of this, little of that) to get through it just fine, and he knows a bunch of folks who did it that way, and…blah, blah, blah. Read the rest…
Previously we mentioned that the pleasure center is a portion of the brain over which we have no conscious control, and that it can be stimulated by a variety of chemicals — some of them produced inside our bodies and some that we introduce from outside. We said that the pleasure center rewards us for activities that it interprets as contributing in some way to our survival, whether they be social interactions, exercising, or more prosaic things such as eating. We also stated that these pleasurable feelings, when pursued too far or for too long can create problems. Now we need to examine how that happens….
Early in human history, there were probably few alcoholics or addicts because the alcohol content available in fermented fruit was low, and plants that produced other intoxicating substances were relatively scarce. The development of agriculture made it possible to insure supplies of grain for beer production, and enabled organized farming of other plant producers of mood-altering substances. …
From an article I wrote on a different site:
Many of us in recovery — especially early recovery — have difficulty with what we see as the “religious” aspects of the 12 Step fellowships. Again, without getting into a discussion about religion versus spirituality, it has been my experience that those who are able to put such prejudices behind them, take from “the program” what fits for them, and allow others the same privilege, are the ones who are most likely to succeed. Personal problems with concepts of gods and higher powers notwithstanding, it is quite possible to be a part of the 12 Step experience and not delve into religion at all.
Spirituality, however, is an absolute must, and certain concepts that have come to be expressed in terms of prayers and similar ideas are also critical to success. Again, we need to read between the lines of those things and take from them the underlying thoughts and wisdom. Sometimes we even need to show a bit of humility and go along with customs such as prayers at the beginning and end of meetings, understanding that those things are important for many people, and that participating does us no real harm at all.
One prayer that we need to take absolutely to heart is the Serenity Prayer…
It’s easy for alcoholics and other addicts to find excuses to use. We come from a society where we take pills or other medication for every little thing — one that spends billions of dollars telling us that it is not OK to feel not OK. Those are words that resonate subconsciously with all addicts. We not only think that it’s not OK to feel less than wonderful, but that even when we feel good we need to try to feel better. There’s a saying to the effect that “I drank because the dog ran away, then I drank because it came back.” Most people in recovery can relate to that.